Essex school teacher banned from classroom for sending 11-year-old pupil messages with sexual references via Snapchat and Instagram
- Credit: © Royalty-Free/CORBIS
A 30-year-old teacher has been banned from the classroom after sending a primary school child flirtatious messages.
A professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) ruled on May 23 that Kay Elizabeth Hollingsworth abused her position of trust while teaching at Notley Green Primary School in Great Notley.
The hearing heard how Miss Hollingsworth sent messages to two pupils as well as a former pupil via Instagram and Snapchat.
Her messages to a Year 6 pupil at the time included: “About to have a shower #mental image for you lol”, “Going to bed now dimples xx” and “I split up with that guy back in October so now I’m single and ready to mingle lol”.
The school had been contacted in November 2014 by the mother of one of the pupils, who had concerns that Miss Hollingsworth was having conversations with her child via Instagram.
After a meeting with the headteacher, Miss Hollingsworth agreed to cease all social media contact with all current and former pupils.
But in January 2015, the parents of a different pupil attended the school with screenshots of Instagram messages between the child and Miss Hollingsworth.
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On May 5, 2015, following a period of suspension, Miss Hollingsworth was dismissed by the school on the grounds of gross misconduct.
The panel said the messages from Miss Hollingsworth were not sexually motivated so did not consider sexual misconduct was a relevant factor in the case.
During the investigation, it was found that Miss Hollingsworth had contacted a third pupil, who previously went to Notley Green via Snapchat.
Miss Hollingsworth had shown remorse, the panel added, as she has said she “will forever regret the actions that I took”.
Her statement to the panel said: “I am shocked and horrified by what I wrote, putting the pupil in an inappropriate position, the school’s reputation in jeopardy and my own career, [to] which I have dedicated nine successful years, in ruin.”
The report by Alan Meyrick, decision maker on behalf of the secretary of state, said: “Miss Hollingsworth’s behaviour was a serious departure from the personal and professional conduct elements of the Teachers’ Standards. The nature of the conversations passing between Miss Hollingsworth and Pupil A (which included sexual references and innuendo) and the age of Pupil A, pushed the behaviour over the boundary of seriousness.
“Most parents of 11-year-olds would think Miss Hollingsworth’s behaviour was inappropriate and serious.”